1. The effects of the subcutaneous administration of a long-acting somatostatin analogue (octreotide) or of placebo on the splanchnic blood flow response to a mixed solid meal has been examined in eight normal subjects by using a transcutaneous Doppler ultrasound technique. Each subject was studied on two occasions more than 1 week apart.

2. On the control day, feeding had a pronounced effect on both superior mesenteric artery and portal venous blood flows, causing a peak rise of 82% in superior mesenteric artery blood flow at 15 min and of 75% in portal venous blood flow at 30 min post-prandially (P < 0.001). Blood flows remained elevated 2 h after the meal. Pulse and blood pressure showed no significant changes from baseline.

3. Octreotide reduced fasting superior mesenteric artery blood flow by 59% (P < 0.05) and portal venous blood flow by 49% (P < 0.01) and blunted the normal post-prandial rise. Pulse and blood pressure did not change in response to either the injection or the ingestion of the meal.

4. Octreotide suppressed the release of insulin, glucagon and pancreatic polypeptide in response to feeding and resulted in post-prandial hyperglycaemia.

5. The mechanism of action of octreotide on splanchnic blood flow is uncertain. It may be mediated via a direct vascular effect or it may act via suppression of vasoactive intestinal hormones.

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